Line Placement Hints for Handwriting

When your child first starts to write on lined notebook paper, it can be very confusing! Where to start?  Where to skip lines so that letters don’t crowd into each other?

We use laminated handwriting charts to teach print and then cursive letters, first working on lower-case and then going on to upper-case letters.  I have several Ebooks on my Packages page that will teach letter placement, as well as the starting and ending points for each letter.

Once your child can confidently trace over their laminated handwriting chart without making mistakes, he is ready to start Copywork.  Copywork is a wonderful way of practising handwriting in a very meaningful way.  Read all about Charlotte Mason.

Copywork is best done on lined notebook pages.

Here’s a good rule when teaching ~


When you start writing on lined notebook paper, first use broad lines.  You can find 17mm lined books at your stationery shop.  Then go on to normal feint & margin pages before using the narrow Irish lined paper.

Before starting, first, draw simple little hints in the margin to help know where the body line begins.

We used these 3 hints:

  1. Draw a simple “Cat” in the margin to allow 3 lines of regular notebook pages for the head, body and tail.
  2. It may be quicker to draw a “lollipop man” in the margin. The round shape is the “head” and the stick is the “body”.  The “legs” are where the cat’s tail would be.
  3. The fastest method is to make a clear dot in the body line. My kids would count “Skip-dot-skip-skip-dot-skip-skip-dot…” to quickly place a dot marker on every 2nd alternate line all the way down their margin before beginning their copywork.

With these hints, your child will soon easily know where to start their writing and be able to do beautiful copywork.

Please support me by ordering my Handwriting Tips and Teaching Print  & Cursive Handwriting Ebooks on my Packages page.

If you wish to write me a private email, please fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page.  I would love to help you!

 Blessings, Nadene
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What’s new in my “Teaching Cursive Handwriting Step-by-Step” Ebook?

I have just completely updated my Teaching Cursive Handwriting Step-by-Step Ebook which is now a 17-page booklet. It includes new information such as Joining cursive upper-case to lower-case letters as well as detailed instructions & examples on line placement for writing on lined notebook pages, starting & ending points for each letter, as well as new charts that include guide-lines and letter placement hints.

Here’s the Table of Contents and some examples:

  • Introduction to Teaching Cursive Handwriting using a laminated chart
  • Why laminated charts work
  • Step-by-Step Handwriting Lessons
  • Getting to know the lines and letter placement
  • Teaching Lower-Case Cursive Letters
  • Line Placement Hints
  • Cursive Lower Case Chart with “cats”, coloured lines and start- & end-points
  • Some fun lower-case cursive handwriting exercises
  • Cursive Lower Case Chart
  • Teaching Cursive Upper-Case Letters
  • Some fun cursive upper-case handwriting exercises
  • Cursive Upper-Case Chart with “lollipop men” coloured lines and start- & end-points
  • Cursive Upper Case Chart
  • Cursive Combined Upper and Lower Case
  • Joining Cursive Upper-Case to Lower-Case Practice Pages A – I
  • Joining Cursive Upper-Case to Lower-Case Practice Pages J – R
  • Joining Cursive Upper-Case to Lower-Case Practice Pages S – Z

Would you please support me and pop over to my Packages page to purchase the updated Teaching Cursive Handwriting Step-by-Step booklet.

If you wish to write a private email to me, please fill in the contact form on my About & Contact page.  I would love to help you!

 Blessings, Nadene
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John Muir Nature Quotes & free Copywork pages

Previously I introduced the famous naturalist John Muir.  Today I would love to share a wonderful collection of his beautiful and inspirational nature quotes.

Here are 15 of John Muir’s famous nature quotes  ~

I was struck by John Muir’s real passion and love for nature and the Creator which he expressed so beautifully in his quotes, all taken from AZ ~
I collected several short quotes, some slightly longer quotes, as well as several long quotes.  These would suit children from junior primary all the way to high school.

You can use these quotes ~

  • in your nature journalling
  • displayed in your nature study centre
  • copied or dictated for Copywork
  • for handwriting practice
  • for debate topics
  • as creative writing prompts
  • for nature causes and ideals

Here are your free downloads which include Charlotte Mason’s copywork & dictation principles, about 10 pages of quotes, as well as lined copywork pages ~

May these pages inspire you and your children in your nature journalling and handwriting practice.

Blessings, Nadene

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How to Join Cursive Font Letters

For years I have used ABC Cursive Plain Font for our Handwriting and Copywork pages, but I never knew how to adjust the font so that the letters join each other, until a reader kindly gave me this tip ~

“You can get the letters to join if you choose “Advanced” and then turn the “Kerning option” on!”

With a little Google search, I found very simple instructions and, once I followed the easy steps, each cursive letter smoothly joined the next letter!  Here’s a pdf. of the instructions ~ Joining letters ABC Cursive Plain Font

In MSWord ~

You can apply these kerning settings to any font which will narrow the space between letters, and with cursive fonts, the starting and finishing strokes will meet to form a seamless line.

Oh, my heart flutters with joy to see the  smooth, joined, flowing cursive lines!  I just LOVE the Internet and my kind readers who helps me learn more!


Blessings, Nadene
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3 Things to avoid in handwriting lessons

What Works! 

Are you new to homeschooling or facing a crisis with your child’s handwriting?  Here’s some practical advice ~

Here are 3 things to avoid in handwriting lessons:

  • Boring  laminated chartYoung children want to write real words as soon as they can and find endless pattern pages and those pages featuring one. letter. at. a. time. very boring.  These expensive handwriting books take almost a year to complete and many young children become frustrated and negative about handwriting.   We use laminated handwriting charts to learn to print and write cursive.  It is quick, free and painless, and within weeks your child will be able to start using copywork pages and practice their handwriting in real sentences.
  • Bad form – Everyone struggles and makes mistakeHandwriting arrowss when learning something new.  Some children become extremely stressed when they cannot control their fine motor muscles or struggle to remember how to correctly form each letter, and this adds to a negative attitude towards handwriting.    With my method, children use a whiteboard marker on the laminated handwriting charts which rubs out in a jiffy.  Any mistake is quickly and easily erased and the child feels much more satisfied at the end of their lesson.  To teach correct form, mom demonstrates writing each letter on the chart while talking through each movement and shape and then the child copies on the chart.  Watch carefully for correct starting points, directions of the stroke and when and where to lift the pen.
  • Basics the basic letter formation.  Learn the upper case letters as soon as they master the lower case letters.  Go on to real handwriting as soon as possible using copywork pages.  Practice daily in short, sweet handwriting lessonsCopywork is an excellent handwriting exercise because your child will use almost all the letters, join cursive letters, combine upper and lower case letters in meaningful sentences.  This also is a great help in learning spelling and memorizing Bible verses. 

Here are some helpful downloads on my Packages Page

Handwriting Tips Booklet (US$R7.00 / ZAR70.00)   This comprehensive 20-page E-book is packed with practical tips and activities covers pre, early and basic writing skills .  It includes helpful activities and fun pre-writing games to build up your child’s gross motor strength, develop fine motor control and develop their spatial awareness.  Important guidelines to promote correct posture and pencil grip for maximum control and minimum stress while learning to write.  I recommend you also purchase the step-by-step guides below for specific guidelines to teach print and cursive.

Teaching Print step-by-step (US$2.00 / ZAR20.00)    An 8-page booklet with practical advice, clear examples and step-by-step instructions on how and where to place letters and how to form each print letter.  I share remedial and junior primary teachers tips, which have proven very effective in our in our homeschooling.

Teaching Cursive step-by-step (US$2.00 / ZAR20.00)   A comprehensive 8-page booklet with practical advice, simple instructions, clear examples, step-by-step descriptions on how and where to place letters and how to form cursive letters.

Pop over to order you handwriting booklets on my Packages Page.

Wishing you every blessings, Nadene




Practical Tip – Mechanical Pencils

mechanical pencilHere’s a homeschool practical tip ~ Use a mechanical pencil

 Here are some benefits ~

  • The constant, fine point prevents smudgy, messy writing.
  • Mechanical pencils points never become dull and blunt,
    and doesn’t require constant sharpening with all the mess and wasted time.
  • Select a pencil with a soft, rubber grip for comfort.
  • Some pencil grips are 3-sided, ergonomic shape which is helpful in establishing the correct pencil grip.
  • A child who struggles with  very light hand pressure should use a soft 2B pencil lead.  This lead will allow a darker line even with light hand pressure.pentel eraser
  • A child who presses too hard should use a harder than normal HB pencil leads such as a H lead.   This lead forms a lighter grey line even when pressed quite hard.
  • Use a good eraser to avoid smudges when rubbing out mistakes.  We all enjoy the Pentel pen-shaped eraser.
  • Mechanical pencil leads last a long time.  Encourage your child not to drop any pencil as this breaks the lead.
  • Some artists use mechanical pencils for their sketches.  It is not just for school work.

I teach handwriting with laminated charts and whiteboard marker.  Once my child knows her letter formation, she goes on to do daily copywork.  Children should write in pencil until they are very confident in cursive before moving on to pens.   Gel pens are wonderfully smooth and flows easily, and older children love to use glitter pens.

Read more details in my post Handwriting Tips #2.

When you tailor-make your homeschooling, you make choices to suit your child’s age, stage and ability.  Chosing a mechanical pencil is practical and helpful.

In Grace, Nadene


Reader’s Question ~ Why such a fuss about cursive handwriting?

This week I would like to share another interesting reader’s question ~
 She writes ~
“My 10-year-old son makes a huge fuss about learning to write in cursive!  He seems stressed, angry and tearful when he tries to write in cursive.  What can I do to help him?”
Here are some of my comments, hints and suggestions ~

Handwriting chart & copywork pages

Handwriting chart & copywork pages

  • Anger and tears usually represent some kind of frustration or fear.
  • Try diffuse the lesson with some handwriting activity that is really easy and fun, such as letter recognition / search games, pattern play, use fun “writing” mediums such as shaving cream on a window!
  • I would ask,
    • “Is he  ‘ready‘ for cursive?
    • Does he know his alphabet?
    • What is his fine motor control like?
    • How does he hold/ grip his pencil and how accurate is he doing small movements?
    • Is his eyesight okay?
    • He may have physical difficulties and require some therapy or extra help.
  • Teach the lesson with a large, clear laminated cursive lower case cursive chart and whiteboard markers. This is a quick, easy way to teach all the letters before going on to copywork.
  • Tell him that he can quickly and easily wipe away any mistakes when he uses a whiteboard marker.  Some kids hate to make mistakes!  Although pencil rubs out, whiteboard markers are super-quick to erase!
  • Whiteboard markers make lovely bold, smooth lines, therefore no need to pen pressure = less stress.
  • Demonstrate each letter and talk through your movements.  See my Handwriting Hints tips and booklet.
  • Girls love to use gel glitter pens.  Find a favorite pen for a boy!
  • Find or make ‘olden days’ letters or manuscripts to read.
  • For fun, let him make his own with quill feather and ink on paper aged with tea!  Let him make invisible ink and write secret spy letters.
  • Only use cursive for formal handwriting lessons, but allow him to continue to use print for his own notes and notebooking.
  • Select really funny/ interesting copywork for him to practice.
  • Practice daily.  Provide a short copywork piece / extract from his favorite book.  Pop over to my free copywork pages.
  • If all these tips do not help, I would suggest you take your child to a therapist for more precise testing. Remedial therapy is often presented in fun activities and yet produce great results.
What other suggestions would you give this reader?  Please share in the comments below.

Handwriting Free & Easy

What Works! 

Looking back over our homeschooling journey to graduation, I am grateful to recognise and promote some of the simple things that really worked!

You need NEVER buy a handwriting program to teach beautiful, functional handwriting.  I discovered a fantastic, simple method ~ and all my children have learnt to write cursive this way ~

Laminated handwriting charts and copywork

I created simple print and cursive handwriting charts.

I taught them the letter formation with simple demonstrations and oral step-by-step descriptions.  The kids spent 5 minutes daily tracing over the letters with a whiteboard marker and they learnt their letter formations within a week or so.  First the lower case, followed by upper case letters.  Finally combination of the upper case with its lower case partner.

Now, rather than spend a fortune on exercise books and tedious practice pages, we went straight on to copywork. We started with copying the memory verse for the week, or a sentence taken from a read aloud, or we simply used our Language Arts dictation as copywork.  I also made a whole selection of quotes from famous artists, or world leaders for older children ~ here are my free copywork pages. Once again, Charlotte Mason’s principles have worked!

They start by tracing over the letters on the laminated chart with a whiteboard marker and then work in pencil on nice wide-lined paper.  Draw a margin and start by drawing a head, body and tail (you’ll notice those little cats in the print chart) in the lines so that the child can see where to place and where to start each letter.

Read all my handwriting tips, step-by-step lesson ideas, relevant posts and free chart downloads ~ Handwriting Page, Print Handwriting, Cursive Handwriting

What they copy is not important at this stage because they are learning to master the physical, technical, fine motor work of handwriting.  The content just adds to the real purpose of writing.  Real sentences with capital letters, punctuation marks and words that convey meaning.

What is important is that this is functional handwriting.

It is real.

It is in context.

These factors are a wonderful motivation.  A young child is not merely filling exercise pages with patterns and repeated letters.  They are actually WRITING!  A young child can run and show dad a whole sentence that he wrote by himself!  What joy!

What is important is that you sit and watch the physical process and encourage your child as they learn.

  1. Look to make sure that they sit correctly.  For this short lesson, posture is vital!

    Booster cushions and feet supported

  2. Make sure that the seat height to table height is correct.  You may need to add a booster cushion or place a foot stool under swinging feet.  (Look at how I use a flexiband to support the legs and provide some movement stimulus.)
  3. See that they hold and grip the pencil correctly.  Train the right grip and reinforce with a soft rubber pencil grip if needs be.
  4. Use a suitable pencil – soft and yet sharp.
  5. Keep your lesson short and sweet.  It doesn’t matter how much is written, but how well each letter is formed.
  6. If your child is uncertain how to form the letter, pull the laminated chart closer and trace over the letter again before trying to write on paper.
  7. Repeat the same copywork daily.

Before long, maybe within a month or so, your child will simply refer to the chart for those odd letters they are unsure of, but they will be writing capital and lower case letters in the correct lines, with the correct size and shape as they do their copywork.  From this point on, they need to refine and polish their style.  I often asked my kids to put a star over their “best” or “favourite” letter or word.  Even on their worst days, (remember that fatigue, stress, illness affect handwriting) every child can still find one letter or word that came out right!

Finally let me encourage you to keep handwriting lessons to the copywork or dictation lessons.  Allow your child to develop their “own style” for narrations and other written work.  My eldest daughter had to forsake her totally perfect handwriting she used in all her work for a slightly looser, informal script when she reached high school.  She needed to work faster.  Her perfect handwriting slowed her down.  I don’t mind if my teens use print.  When it comes to formal assignments that need to marked by external markers, letters posted to real people, filling in official forms, etc., then neat, correct handwriting matters!

You can teach your child to write for free in short, simple lessons!

Please write and share your handwriting tips or ask questions in the comments below.


Fresh New Handwriting Charts!

Some time ago, a fellow South African teacher, now living and working in New Zealand visited my blog and then emailed me and offered to make me new handwriting charts for my blog.

I was stunned. 

My old teaching-days-photocopied-and-tipexed-charts I had uploaded to my blog were fuzzy, smudged and unclear.  Of course I said, “YES!”

Within weeks she popped these gorgeous fresh new charts into my Dropbox

I was delighted.  But then my laptop crashed … and it has taken me months absolutely ages to reorganize myself and upload all these lovely clear charts and refresh my Handwriting Pages

Do you want to pop over and take a look? 

May I introduce you to my cyber-fairy Veronica?

She works as a Special Needs Teacher in Auckland, New Zealand.  She describes how she felt the Lord lead her to take up a position in the school: 

“I emigrated to New Zealand in 1997. I could not find a post at a normal primary school in Auckland and then I got an interview at a special school in the south of Auckland. I wasn’t trained for special education and wondered whether I would be able to do this.

I was pretty nervous as I arrived at the school for the interview, but when I put my hand on the door handle at this Special School, I made eye contact with the students who were waiting for their taxis, and I was sold.

I soon found out that there were no resources available for the low functioning students at that school. I wasn’t very computer literate, but had to learn fast, as I had to make worksheets etc to suit their learning levels and abilities.

When I wanted to write a series of books (resources) and needed a font, and I had to learn how to make fonts.   This would also help other teachers if they wanted to make their own worksheets.

I am also making font pages for a friend who is teaching at a Distance Education School in the South of Brisbane as she has one student who is autistic.

Children need resources to make their education fun and worthwhile.  It doesn’t matter how disabled they are, they can still learn and have a fruitful education!

I don’t want to make a difference in the lives of just the 6 students I teach, but I want to make a difference in 6 million or more other children’s lives!”

How inspiring!  I trust that the Lord blesses and rewards you for  your compassion and love and practical ministry.

And may I say again, “Thank you so much Veronica.”